By Guest Author Angell Kim
The places we are “traveling” to these days may be the living room, bathroom, and bedroom as COVID-19 leads us into the black hole of uncertainty. Staying at home and quarantining as the situation stabilizes isn’t easy. It is testing our patience and mental strength, tempting us to be unmotivated, anxious, frustrated, and bored, munching everything in our path.
However, this could be a turning point in our lives, a moment where we decide to pursue higher education or a unique experience through fellowships. We aren’t sure about how long this time will last, but, in the meantime, I’d like to share how you can take advantage of this time to get a headstart on you researching and applying to opportunities, including fellowships.
1. Embrace the Time
We are people of routines, with schedules, calendar reminders, places to go, and many things to do. Now, we may have unfortunately lost our jobs, have office jobs that require us to telework, or be students taking courses online, waiting for school to start up again. How do we “embrace the time?”
The current situation has given us the opportunity to take a step back and become more aware of ourselves and our environment. The time we have can be spent in better ways than worrying about filling it, waiting for it to pass, and trying to stay busy. Instead, we can use it to explore or try new activities.
2. Use This Time to do the Things You Weren’t Able to do Before
I am pretty sure we have all said, “I wish I could…” Well, thanks to the quarantine, now you can! The Internet is a powerful tool, resource, and teacher. Through the Internet, you can write a blog or a book, make a vlog, learn about nail art, learn a new language, connect with people around the world, take an online course, learn to make a pie, and the list goes on. Take advantage of this time to prepare yourself for your next opportunity.
You can also use your time to search for fellowships (search ProFellow’s free database of fellowships here!), as well as scholarships, higher education opportunities, certificates, or certifications, and find ways to help others virtually. You might discover your dream program by taking a few hours to learn about what’s out there – something you would not have had time to do before!
Additionally, these opportunities for self-development will contribute to your background and experiences when applying to fellowships. Even if you don’t find a program that seems like a good fit for now, you can use this time to build your credentials and boost your resume. Always wanted to learn how to code or learn another language? Now is the perfect time!
3. Exercise and Eat Well
We’ve always been told that eating healthy and working out are key to good health, and we’ll be able to focus better on our work when we’ve done what we can do to make sure our bodies are healthy. This point is probably the hardest to follow, as social distancing and staying indoors leads us to be less motivated or more anxious to eat junk food. However, if we are sitting down and looking at a computer screen for 75% of your day, we need to reward our bodies with movement.
We can use this time to explore the plethora of exercise videos, clips, routines, you name it, to break a sweat. I believe eating well and delighting in treats are good for us, but we can also think this way about exercising. Working out alone, with or without a gym, is pretty difficult because who likes sweat, muscle pain, and discomfort? *Raises hand* You have to exercise your willpower at first to get going, but soon the other muscles will follow. How can you stay motivated and remain accountable? Including others or reaching out to your circles will help you.
4. Reach Out to Your Social Circles
We are in this together. After examining diverse information on how to achieve happiness and what “happiness” truly means, I noticed a common thread: relationships.
When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Colombia, we were advised that during our first three months in our new home, we should focus our energy on observing and getting to know our communities, the people, and local leaders. Building relationships was the key to understanding the needs of the community and getting anything done during the Peace Corps, really. With that said, maintaining and building our relationships by reaching out to others is important so that we can create a positive outlet where we can express how we are feeling, what we are doing, celebrate each other, and become more human during this trying time.
So, round up your best friends and family to make them your accountability buddies to keep those relationships going. Listen with intent to pay it forward. We aren’t just talking about “Hi, how are you?” and “Oh, I am fine.” Make an effort to go in-depth about our days. Practice being compassionate and strengthening your social skills during this pandemic. Go the extra mile to call your relatives whom you haven’t talked to and check in on them. Right now is the time to unite and be there for each other, albeit virtually.
You and your circles will be thankful and more positive for the kind gesture of a call or a conversation that isn’t about the virus. If you feel helpless right now, you’re not. You’re part of keeping yourself and others sane with human connection. It’s also a great way to maintain a social life as you work on your applications.
5. Organize your Time and Don’t Multitask
You read that right. Don’t multitask! I know human resources looks for people who are great at multitasking, have 10+ years of experience in a specific skill, a Master’s degree, and insert-whatever-outrageous-criteria-necessary-for-a-job here. However, we don’t need to be so uptight about being multitaskers because right now, we need to take a deep breath and make sure we are emotionally empowered, motivated, and strengthened rather than overwhelmed, exhausted, and burnt out.
We are already spending hours and hours on the web, social media-ing, browsing or working from our computers, so as soon as you start your day, organize your time. Allocate and write out a specific amount of time on the computer to work, research, learn, exercise to workout videos, and loaf around on social media. Don’t forget to set time to take a vacation from the computer. Additionally, to organize our time and remain focused, we should just have one internet tab open instead of having a trillion. If not, we have a tendency to open each tab everytime we remember we need to do XYZ or we fall victim to the social media portal of no return.
Remember, one window to do X task for a specific amount of time allocated. No other tabs. Just one window, one task, and one set amount of time to do it and don’t forget to step away from the computer for another specific amount of time.
These are just some self-care, self-development reminders as you start or continue your journey to find a new opportunity or build up your resume even when we’re quarantined at home. It’s a positive that we have this time to work, but don’t forget to include some of these points through your process!
Angell Kim graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Global Studies and a Minor in Latin American Studies. She is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer from Colombia (2016-2018), a 2020 Donald M. Payne International Development Fellow, and is a 2020 Paul D. Coverdell Fellow and MPA candidate at the University of Arizona.
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